Sixers select Embiid with third pick in NBA Draft
NEW YORK — Sam Hinkie went big for the second straight year.

At 7:52 p.m., commissioner Adam Silver announced that Hinkie and the Sixers had selected Kansas center Joel Embiid at No. 3 in Thursday night's NBA Draft at the Barclays Center.

The 7-foot Embiid underwent surgery Friday for a stress fracture of his left foot that is expected to sideline him for at least four months. The Sixers could choose to sit him for the entire 2014-15 season, as they did with No. 6 overall pick Nerlens Noel a year ago.

If Embiid doesn't play, it would mark the third straight season in which the Sixers had what amounted to a redshirt big man, counting Andrew Bynum in 2012-13.

The Sixers also reportedly acquired the rights to the No. 12 selection, Croatian forward Dario Saric, who is committed to at least two years overseas after signing a three-year contract in Turkey, for their No. 10 choice, Louisiana-Lafayette point guard Elfrid Payton. The Sixers would also acquire a 2015 second-rounder and the top-11 protected 2017 first-round pick from Orlando. Saric's contract would have to be bought out for him to play in Philly before 2016-17.

The deal wasn't officially confirmed late Thursday.

The Sixers also had five second-rounders.

Sixers coach Brett Brown talked about the team's three- to five-year rebuilding plan late last season, but it seems general manager Hinkie, in his second year on the job, might be taking a more gradual approach than that.

Embiid, a Cameroon native who has played only three years of organized basketball, is raw but has drawn comparisons to a young Hakeem Olajuwon. He has better offensive moves than Noel and could end up playing some power forward, assuming the Sixers hold on to Noel.

“He's just starting to scratch the surface,” said Kansas coach Bill Self of Embiid in a Barclays Center hallway 20 minutes after the pick. “If he's healthy, Philadelphia got a steal at No. 3. He's a franchise-potential type player.”

Embiid, who wasn't in Brooklyn due to his surgery and apparently might not be able to fly for a few weeks, missed the Big 12 Conference and NCAA tournaments with a stress fracture in his back that Self claimed has healed. Embiid averaged 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.6 blocked shots, 23.1 minutes and shot 63.6 percent from the field in 28 games during his only year with the Jayhawks.

“They're going to get a guy with personality, a guy that moves like a guard and can score in a plethora of ways,” Self said. “He very easily could've been the No. 1 pick.”

The price to move up to No. 1 to get Embiid's college teammate, Andrew Wiggins, was apparently Nos. 3, 10 and 32 and the Sixers were willing to pay it, according to an NBA source. But the Cavaliers wouldn't do the deal and selected Wiggins.

The Sixers reportedly had conversations with the Celtics (No. 6), Kings (8) and others about acquiring those teams' picks, though it didn't work out. There were rumblings the Sixers had interest in Michigan shooting guard Nik Stauskas, who went to Sacramento.

There were plenty of Philly fans in the crowd, as evidenced by the “Let's go Sixers” chant that broke out 30 minutes prior to the start of the draft and continued periodically until the draft started.